BGF Foundation brings charity partnership to life with BGF staff volunteering

Our team members acted as ‘dragons’ for Social Enterprise Academy, as part of its Social Enterprise Schools programme.

2 July 2024

Social Enterprise Schools

One month into the BGF Foundation (BGFF) partnership with the Social Enterprise Academy (SEA) and BGF team members are already bringing collaboration to life in meaningful ways. As well as BGFF’s charitable commitment to SEA — providing £200,000 of unrestricted funding for the charity to use as they see fit — our team have been volunteering their own time, acting as ‘dragons’ in SEA’s Dragons’ Den competitions.

A key strand of SEA’s work is carried out with young people in schools, where the programme focuses on entrepreneurship education, building confidence among young people, and inspiring them to become active citizens, changemakers and job creators. They ask the young people two key questions: What do you care about? And how will you make change happen?

Young people identify and reflect on issues within their local communities, and create real-life social enterprises within their school to address these. Students are then given the opportunity to pitch their business ideas in a Dragons’ Den-style ceremony.

A transformative experience for all

The recent Dragons’ Den competitions showcased the commitment and expertise of BGF staff in our London office, as they mentored and evaluated young social entrepreneurs. In total, they supported:

  • 31 schools, including primary, secondary and SEND (special education needs and disabilities) schools
  • 44 social enterprises
  • 280 young people

And, of the 31 schools BGF engaged with, 12 will move on to receive an Award at the Social Enterprise Schools Awards in July.

The BGF team members that volunteered across various Local Authorities in London included:

  • Alistair Brew, Head of Investment Operations (Greenwich)
  • James Archer, Portfolio (Enfield)
  • Sofia Paci, Origination (Redbridge)
  • Matt Singh, Investor (Barking)
  • Carol O’Donnell, Executive Assistant (Havering)
  • Darren Duporte, Talent Acquisition & EDI Lead (Havering)

Our team helped to refine business plans and provided invaluable feedback to the young people involved, bringing a unique and impactful dimension to the students’ experience. As successful business professionals, our team offer insights and perspectives grounded in real-world experience.

“Having BGF professionals as dragons equipped our young social entrepreneurs with invaluable business and financial guidance.”
Maya Wenzel
SEA’s Education & Delivery Lead in England

This external involvement, with BGF staff stepping into the role of ‘dragons’, rather than the teachers, serves as powerful motivation for the pupils, showing them that their ideas are taken seriously by industry leaders. BGF staff also found tremendous value in participating.

Our Head of Investment Operations, Alistair Brew, said: “Volunteering as a dragon was incredibly rewarding. It reminded me of the power of youthful creativity and reinforced my belief in the importance of supporting social enterprises. The students’ passion and ingenuity were truly inspiring.”

BGF Head of Investment Operations, Alistair Brew, taking part in SEA's Dragons' Den BGF’s Head of Investment Operations, Alistair Brew, taking part in the SEA Dragons’ Den competition

Adding value with Social Enterprise Academy

By engaging directly with the young social entrepreneurs, BGF team members were able to share their expertise and witness first-hand the positive impact of their mentorship. This opportunity allowed them to give back to the community, develop their own leadership skills, and gain fresh perspectives from the next generation of innovators.

This mutual benefit underscores the strength of BGFF’s partnership with SEA. As they continue to collaborate, we anticipate even greater achievements and more inspiring success stories, further validating the importance of combining financial support with active, hands-on engagement.

As it moves forward, the BGF Foundation remains dedicated to deepening this partnership with SEA. We look forward to continuing our support, through both financial contributions and active engagement, ensuring that the Social Enterprise Academy has the resources and expertise needed to expand its reach and impact.

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